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School district reaching out to distance-learning MIAs

By Staff | May 7, 2020

The School District of Lee County says nearly all of its students continue to be engaged with distance learning.

But they are concerned about the 1.92 percent of students that have somehow fallen into the gap between classroom learning and learning online.

“Our engagement is 98.08 percent,” District spokesperson Rob Spicker said of students doing distance learning. “We have 1.92 percent of students in our traditional schools that have not engaged with distance learning.”

There are about 85,000 students in the district’s traditional K-12 schools.

He said they have staff that is dedicated to continue to contact students and families, which is part of the support behind each teacher and her class.

Support staff will continue to call and email the students to try and get a response of what is going on – where the student is and how to get them engaged.

“I don’t think we can give up the effort to track them down,” he said. “When they show up to school in the fall, we will have consultations and conferences with the family and staff to make sure they are in the appropriate place.”

Strategic Communications Director Irma Lancaster said they understand that distance learning can be a challenge for students, families and teachers.

“While students are being graded on their work, our teachers will be grading with grace and are there to provide support to our families,” Lancaster said. “In addition, the district has created and is providing many resources to students and families to help support their learning at home. Every effort is being made to help our students succeed in their learning during this time.”

These resources can be found on the district’s website at www.leeschools.net

The district continues to watch the phases of reopening amidst COVID-19, as well as waiting to hear from the Department of Education to determine if schools can open for summer school.

Lancaster said summer learning is a current topic of discussion and they will communicate information with families as soon as possible.

Spicker said the last recommendation that was issued is schools need to remain closed until the end of the school year, which is June 3.

In August, the district will then see how much students have lost during distance learning and how much needs to be made up, which is a challenge they are ready to tackle.

If a student is held back it will not an arbitrary decision, but rather one that involves consultation before it happens and the reasons why, Spicker said.

“We believe through distance learning that we are still providing curriculum and standards,” he said, adding that students should be ready to move on to that next level.

From what Spicker has heard and gathered, the overall feedback of distance learning has been positive.

“It seems to be working as well as expected,” he said.

Spicker encourages families to take the district survey, which was emailed last month. The survey can be found at https://bit.ly/2Yg03gP. He said the district continues to find ways to meet and provide students with what they need, as well as doing it in a way for families to get the school work done.

“Dr. (Jeff) Spiro and his team are regularly updating the board and each other about the feedback. They are making adjustments where they can,” he said.

Spicker said with this being a trying time for everyone, if parents need to be more concerned about putting food on the table than doing homework assignments,, the district wants to partner to help them accomplish the work, rather than dictate they have to do it now.

In other words, he said they consider themselves “passionate partners in all of this.”